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The Mandalorian 1.1-1.3 Review

December 6, 2019 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
The Mandalorian
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The Mandalorian 1.1-1.3 Review  

Author’s Note: This will be a full in-depth look at the first three episodes of The Mandalorian, spoilers included. Please read at your own risk.

Earlier in October, I was present for a special preview event and first look at the new live-action Star Wars television series, The Mandalorian. And while the preview showed a sizable chunk of the first episode, plus some scenes from Episodes 2 and 3, we didn’t get to see a full, completed episode until the show’s debut on November 12. Needless to say I was blown away and had a very good feeling about the series, which is really the Star Wars show I’ve wanted to see and practically dreamed about for decades.

I knew I wanted to review the show at some point, but I just needed some time to get around to it. As such, I wanted to first go back and look at the initial three episodes, as they played out as a fairly continuous three-part story.

Chapter 1

The Mandalorian - Chapter 1

The story begins about five years after the events of Return of the Jedi. Deep in the outer rim, our loner protagonist is a bounty hunter The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal). The Empire has fallen, but the Galaxy still appears to have no shortage of scum and villainy. The Mandalorian picks up his latest score, Myhtrol (Horatio Sanz), easily dispatching some other interested scoundrels.

Upon returning to the bounty hunter guild and reporting back to the guild’s leader, Greef Karga (Carl Weathers), Mando is looking for a job with a substantial payout. Karga does have one. It’s a criminal underworld contact, no bounty pucks. This mysterious individual, known only as The Client (Werner Herzog), wants The Mandalorian to bring in a particular subject, only being able to share its approximate age, 50 years, and its last known location. From the Stormtroopers under his employ, it’s clear that The Client is more than likely an ex-Imperial officer, who has likely turned warlord with the fall of the Empire. While an associate of The Client, Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi), wants the subject brought back alive, The Client is willing to be flexible and is willing to pay for its return for a lower fee. As he says, “Bounty hunting is a complicated profession.” The reward is something of great interest to Mando, it’s a full camtono of Beskar steel, the sacred metal Mandalorians use to make their armor.

The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels creator Dave Filoni makes his live-action directorial debut with this episode, and it’s definitely an auspicious start. While this is a TV series with more of a TV pace, it does have that epic scope that’s expected out of a Star Wars product. Creator and showrunner Jon Favreau did an excellent job of providing a tone and feeling for this series that’s more reminiscent of the original trilogy. Additionally, the storytelling evokes a style that’s reminiscent of ye olde 1990s Expanded Universe. You can tell from watching the show that Favreau and Filoni grew up loving Star Wars and were captivated by it, even the greatly maligned Holiday Special, which has some references worked in here.

Obviously, in a post-Game of Thrones world, TV productions can no longer skimp on production values and visuals. The Mandalorian certainly doesn’t disappoint in that regard. The show has a pretty good mix of practical sets, CG visual effects and creatures, along with practical costume and animatronic work.

The early Disney+ preview event cuts off before Mando returns to his covert Mandalorian enclave, led by a mysterious individual known only as The Armorer (Emily Swallow). This is where the lore and intrigue increases for the show. Mando himself appears to be a war orphan from the Clone Wars who was taken in by this enclave, and the Mandalorians also appear to be in hiding. Now, right off the bat, these Mandalorians seem quite different from the ones who were depicted in Clone Wars and Rebels and operate by a different set of rules. But the show gets deeper into that later as it goes along.

I’m appreciate for what Favreau and Filoni have done with Mando a character. He’s a fairly stoic individual, and we never see him without his helmet. It’s rare to see this type of character depicted throughout a major production. Clearly, Pascal was up to the challenge, where a lot of his acting tools are covered and obscured. Yet the emotions and feelings for the character still come through with his body language and simple head tilts. In a production like this, getting the character out of the armor or his helmet is often the first thing that happens, so it’s exciting the show did not go that route.

Obviously, a major show stealer to the episode was bounty hunter IG-11 (Taika Waititi). Obviously, everyone assumed this character would was going to be IG-88. Instead, Favreau and Filoni made some wise decisions with the character selection here. They made a show about bounty hunters, but they didn’t use the iconic ones of the Star Wars lore. They used ones that look similar to Boba Fett or IG-88. However, they created new characters so they are free to tell the stories they wish without being beholden to fan expectations or established lore for the established characters. It was a wise move because they can play in the Star Wars sandbox, but are free to tell their own stories with new characters. It does make the series feel more unique and fresh.

After reasoning with IG-11, Mando manages to team up with him to take an encampment of heavily armed thugs in search of their quarry. What they find is something no one expected. It’s an infant child, aged 50 years, clearly of the same race of the fallen Jedi master Yoda. While IG-11 was told his orders were to kill the subject, Mando does not allow that to happen, proving he is a man with a conscious. The age thing threw me off, but IG-11 pointed out that species that lives for centuries is likely still in its infancy stage at age 50.

The Mandalorian - Chapter 1

One thing I appreciate about the series, at least so far, is that it doesn’t really take anything for granted. Every piece of dialogue has a purpose or is there for a reason. The acting has a more natural believable style that was missing in the clunky, stilted prequels. Obviously, the shock and reveal of this infant, referred to as The Child or The Being, but referred to as “Baby Yoda” by the fandom, gives the season its greater mystery. As a first episode,

Episode Rating: 9.5 out of 10.0

Chapter 2: The Child

The Mandalorian

Rick Famuyiwa directs Episode 2, “The Child,” which picks up not long after the end of the first episode. Mando has acquired his bounty, but returning and getting his payment is not going to be a walk in the park. After nearly being ambushed by a group of Trandoshans, he returns to his ship, the Razor Crest, which is getting stripped and salvaged by a group of off-world Jawas. They make a hasty escape in their Sandcrawler, which Mando attempts to chase, in a scene that’s a clear homage to Indiana Jones.

Seeing an action scene involving Jawas and the sandcrawler was a lot of fun. There’s clearly a sense of just dumping all your favorite action figures and vehicles and playing around here. The Jawas actually prove to be amusingly competent. As a side note, Favreau does a good job of allowing Mando to take some licks here and the first episode. It adds a nice bit of dimension to the character in getting to see him screw up or get some comedic lumps, such as when he’s riding in the Sandcrawler and his head slams into the roof.

Mando gains some much-needed assistance from a native to this remote, barren planet, Kuiil (Nick Nolte), who we met back in the first episode and helped Mando learn how to ride the Blurrg. He’s willing to help Mando negotiate with the Jawas to get his parts back. The Jawas are willing to trade them back, but they want an elusive egg from an aggressive beast called the Mudhorn.

The Mudhorn fight was another scene that was shown at the preview event. However, all the shots and parts involving The Child being present in this scene were removed. And it cuts off when it’s about to make that charge toward Mando. Obviously, this is a huge scene as it reveals the infant has Force abilities and was able to save Mando from getting gored by that Mudhorn. With the egg retrieved, Mando gets his parts back, and Kuiil helps him repair his ship so he can get back to the guild.

Honestly, I was quite surprised with how short this episode was. It was significantly shorter than the first episode. With credits and the logos removed, it didn’t even cross a half an hour. That hardly hurt or ruined this episode for me, but it shows that The Mandalorian isn’t really following a traditional TV format.

This was a more transitional episode. Mando has to get from Point B to Point C, but he has all these obstacles getting in the way. The action was good, and the mystery with The Child was progressed, if only slightly.

Episode Rating: 8.5 out of 10.0

Chapter 3: The Sin

The Mandalorian

With his ship repaired, Mando is set to return to the guild’s planet to retrieve his reward. Now, I wanted to take this time to credit Favreau and his writing team for how well they pulled off a character like The Child. This was a character that easily could’ve been highly problematic. Whenever you have a creature like this, it can easily become a frustrating annoyance to the audience. Case in point, characters such as Jar Jar Binks in the prequels.

The important thing to note is while the child is an infant, Favreau plays the character in a fairly subtle, understated way. The audience doesn’t see the child pooping, farting, or vomiting. It becomes a rather endearing creature that the audience falls in love with. The set up here with The Child playing with that ball bearing from the ship lever was perfect. Mando has inexplicably bonded with the creature, and he clearly has a deep psychological desire to want to protect. Perhaps it was borne out of the strife in his own past, but it once again shows that Mando is a man with a conscious.

Mando does return to The Client and trades The Child, the “Sin” referenced in the title, for his full camtono of Beskar. It’s quite heartbreaking looking at The Child’s face after he’s turned over, likely for dissection. Director Deborah Chow and Pedro Pascal did a great job with these moments. You could tell just from looking at Mando that he knew what he was doing was wrong. These felt biblical in execution and almost framed Mando like he’s a Judas trading in a messiah for 30 pieces of silver.

Mando does return the re-acquired Beskar to his enclave, and The Armorer builds him a brand-new full cuirass of armor this time. However, Mando turns down the option to have the Mudhorn as his new clan signet, believing he is not worthy of the honor as The Child was the one who saved his life from the creature.

We get some more lore peeled back for the Mandalorians here, with reference to an event called The Great Purge. These Mandalorians now live secret, hiding away from the rest of the galaxy, and the Empire was the cause. There’s still a lot about Mandalorain culture that’s unknown. The rule about the helmets is very curious. The Mandalorians who have previously been depicted in Star Wars had no such rule about not taking off their helmets. In fact, they took off their helmets all the time. It’s still not clear if that rule is specific to a certain tribe, or if it’s a new rule. Though later material suggests Mando has been following the rule since before The Great Purge. Hopefully, all these details get clarified later.

With the mission completed, Mando looks to get his next job from Karga, who celebrates his success. However, what’s happened with “the kid” doesn’t sit well with Mando. Just as he’s about to leave, the show does a callback to the little ship lever bearing The Child was playing with earlier, and it’s clear Mando is not leaving.

The episode climaxes with a fantastic action sequence. First, The Mandalorian infiltrates the Imperial warlord base. Parts of this sequence were also shown at the preview event. I was highly amused by Mando wrecking the gate security droid that was first seen in Return of the Jedi. After retrieving The Child, there’s a scene in the guild hall with all the bounty hunters’ tracking fobs lighting up. It’s the Star Wars version of John Wick, which was another amusing moment.

Mando now has to fight his way back on the ship, but it looks like every bounty hunter on the planet and Greef Karga are standing between him and the Razor Crest. However, while Mando might’ve broken the code of the Bounty Hunter Guild, he upheld the code of honor for the Mandalorians. The rest of his covert arrives to the scene, breaking their secrecy in order to assist Mando, including the Heavy Infantry Mandalorian, Paz Vizsla (Jon Favreau/Tait Fletcher), who resented Mando earlier in the episode for working with the Empire.

Getting to see a live-action sequence of Mandalorians fighting in full armor was pretty extraordinary. Deborah Chow has clearly proven herself as a capable director with this episode, and it shows that the planned Obi-Wan Kenobi series, which she’s set to direct, is in good hands. This was probably the best action sequence in the show thus far. What Star Wars fan hasn’t dreamed of seeing a full troop of Mandalorians flying into battle with their jetpacks in live-action at some point?

The Mandalorian - Chapter 3 The Sin

The payoff to the episode, with The Mandalorian offering The Child the ship part he was playing with earlier and had taken away was nigh perfection. While the story does continue from here, this episode did play out like Part 3 of a three-parter story of sorts. I imagine this is why the first three episodes were shown together at the world premiere because they did feel like a single story or movie in this way, and it’s the main reason I’m starting with the first three episodes for this review.

Episode Rating: 9.0 out of 10.0

The Mandalorian is streaming now on Disney+.

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
The Mandalorian is really everything I ever wanted out of a live-action Star Wars series. And it is easily the best piece of live-action material the franchise has produced since the original trilogy. Thus far, Jon Favreau and his team have done an exceptional job of creating a show that not only feels like old-school Star Wars but provides a fresh spin with new characters and new stories for fans, which is what the franchise has been sorely needing. There's no worry about handling of legacy characters, since the show uses brand-new ones. Ultimately, that's for the best. Star Wars is better when it covers new ground and new characters. Clearly, all the fake spoilers and rumor mongers trying to connect Mando to Boba Fett were wrong.